November 21, 2014

Midwest Indie: Madame Scodioli

I've been collecting the solid perfumes of Madame Scodioli for some time now.  When at first and by chance I ran across her solid perfume Laudanum, I had to have it, based on the name alone.  That solid scent proved to be both intoxicating and soothing, just as I hoped it would be.  It's a combination of pipe tobacco and strong black tea, fully redolent of my scent memories of nicotine and caffeine, those two All-American soothers and stimulants.

Then I was drawn further  into her carnival sideshow website, and the life she described in a time warp set in Salina, Kansas, the rest stop for the traveling circus side-show attraction that she styles herself to be, that is, a Bearded Lady. It makes perfect sense, as her perfumes lean toward the masculine side of the aisle but are highly attractive to the feminine sensibility too.  Indeed a portrait of herself is featured on all the solid perfumes, as a pretty turn-of-the-century lady stroking her well-groomed beard.

I was more than willing to enter into the spirit, especially on reading her copy describing Laudanum
"...dominant notes of pipe tobacco and black tea, and hints of fruit and spice. This scent reminds the Madame of sitting in the parlor of the troupe's stygian Horned Devil Man."

Well yes.  So I went on to order Cloven, featuring a number of my favorite fragrance elements of amber, sandalwood, vanilla and cedarwood.  Those magic words!

As described on the site:
"...the perfect scent for our troupe's own cloven footed lady, who glides so gracefully across stage before the captivated crowds. She's a showstopper, ladies and gents, and we think you'll feel the same..."

Rather milder than Laudanum, its charm recalls the scent of a smooth waxed wooden floor, a little heat thrown up by the striking of heels against the polished surface, subtle, a restrained passion like the beginning of a flamenco dance, and the fragrant light powder on the ladies' faces as they clap along.

Then I came upon Fortunato, themed on Pine, Smoke and Whiskey, a scented balm held within beeswax, sunflower and sweet almond oil, and vitamin E. How could it not be beneficial to both body and spirit?  Something like dozing over a stiff drink in the woods before the campfire. Or reading in a library lit with beeswax candles feeling the alcohol running through your veins. If you can't get to either place and would like to, you might try this perfume to bring you there in spirit if not in fact.

Step Right Up is a refreshing if "exotic"  blend of "cedar, smoky patchouli and sandalwood, musky saffron and finished with a touch of vetyver." I find it close to becoming my ultimate comfort scent for going to bed, rubbed into the base of the throat like a salve, at the temples and wrists, to be carried away on the waves of the anticipation of rest. All those notes sound like show-stoppers but they combine into a mild and decorative softness, to soothe and beautify the darkness without taking over.

All these details and nuances hit the chords for me of the old Ray Bradbury stories of the traveling carnival, and the Western pioneers, both rough and refined in their elegant physicality. These are mythic scents of the characters that went their own way with quite an individual sense of style and their own standards of practicality around morality, in good times or bad.

These are not the candy and soda scents of the drive-in entertainments of later years, or the animal scents of the circuses, but the scents of individuals who were unusual visions in themselves, showing off for money before the public.  As much as we'd all like to be celebrities at least in our own minds nowadays, that impulse is not new, it was born of a time when the most unusual of us vied for the public's attention with energy and much to impart in the way of self-knowledge, just from being so different.

I like the concept as translated into perfume and grooming aids.  I also appreciate how Madame Scodioli describes herself as two people in one. In the guise of Madame Scodioli, she is:

"Owner, Maker, Stoic Figurehead, Bearded lady. Soapmaker. Perfumer. Relentless perfectionist. Facial hair enthusiast. Lover of antiques, whiskey, chocolate and shoes."

In her guise as D.H. Riley (Doghouse Riley) she is:

"the Madame's devoted assistant and aspiring Painted Lady. The troupe found her on a barstool in Omaha." 

The two are one and the same, the perfumer does all herself, from design to hand pour to writing copy.

These solid perfumes are extremely well priced and generously proportioned (1 ounce for $16 ) so they are great to collect or give as little gifts, and perfect to carry around, as these flat disk like  tins have a secure screw-top lid.  There is also a sample program.  Most of the scent described above and many of the others on the site also come in other forms such as whisker wax, shaving soap or beard tonic, and also in liquid eau de parfum, 1 ounce for $30. 

Don't be misled by the simplicity, there is a sense of design that makes for a rich perfume experiences captured in wax, holding close to the skin but strong enough to make their presence known to you alone as you dwell in them.

Madame Scodioli also collaborates with others, my favorite of these is Ms. Cloven, a jewelry designer. They've made a look book together with beautifully earthy and enviable pieces paired with the perfumes. 

A visit to the site will deliver much that is well worth pursuing. Be sure to check out the old farmhouse Madame is restoring in her free time, to become a storefront at some later date.  

Above images from the Madame Scodioli website.  
Samples and perfumes from my own collection.

Copyright 2014, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved. 

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